Experts explain how concussions can lead to permanent injury

Experts explain how concussions can lead to permanent loss of function

Posted: Updated:

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - At least 500,000 students nationally are living with a brain injury, but experts say there could be even more because the injuries go undiagnosed too often. Now experts at the University of Tennessee are trying to keep students safe.

Paula Denslow's two adult sons suffered brain injuries in their teens.

"I was devastated. I couldn't believe that my son could be injured like this. I didn't realize. I didn't know. I didn't know and not knowing brought more fear and anxiety because I didn't know what tomorrow was going to bring," Denslow said.

According to experts, there are more than 5 million people in the U.S. living with a brain injury.

To help provide information, the UT Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology is hosting a conference on brain injuries.

UT professor Kristin King hopes the information helps save lives. "People I don't think have a clear understand of the impact of a brain injury. It's a lifetime sentence," she said.

Concussions are common in some sports. A brain injury can impair everything from hearing to memory.

King says it's important that players, parents and coaches understand the signs of a concussion and how to treat it.

A concussion does not have to come from a direct hit. Strong shaking can injure the brain. "You do not have to lose consciousness. You just have to have a brief period of confusion," King said.

She says all concussions must heal before activities continue because another concussion can cause permanent injury and loss of function.

"We want the physicians, the athletic trainers, the school personnel, everyone to understand what they should be looking for in the student so they can be completely sure they are safe to return to play," King explained.

Almost 200 people are attending the conference in hopes of helping their family, or the community, treat brain injuries.

"The more we're able to access resources and talk with people that understand brain injury, the better we are as a family," Denslow said.

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